Why Do Amarillo & Lubbock Hate Youth Baseball? Fix Your Fields!
Last year, there was an issue on the Amarillo ballot that was there to help improve the baseball fields around Amarillo. As a baseball parent, I can tell you first-hand how bad of shape they're in.
It's not for lack of taking care of them, it's one of those things where over time, the fields deteriorate just like anything else in life. There are nasty lips from the infield to the outfield on certain fields, and the outfield at most parks have divots and holes everywhere.
I thought this problem was limited to Amarillo until we went and visited Lubbock this weekend to play some baseball. I left there thinking to myself it's not just Amarillo who seems to not care about the fields, but the entire Texas Panhandle.
We were in the middle of a game on Sunday when after a play was over, I saw what appeared to be my son being silly and bouncing up and down. I yell out to him to stop it and get back in position. He shouts back, "I can't! I'm stuck!" I reply back with a simple, "What?!" out of sheer confusion.
He says it again, and I call time out. I hustle out to see what he's talking about, and sure enough, he's stuck. As I was approaching him, I thought he'd found quicksand or something of the sort. No, it was a MASSIVE prairie dog hole...and his foot was all the way down the hole.
Now, we were able to easily and safely extract his foot from the hole, and we did it without any kind of injury amazingly.
However, if you're going to have full-on tournaments at these fields, it should be MANDATORY that someone goes out and inspects these fields. That could've ended much worse. He could've snapped his ankle and ended his season in his first tournament of the year. He could've had to have surgery and rehab it, with his ankle maybe never being the same at 11 years old.
It shouldn't be so difficult to check these things, and furthermore, just improve the quality of the fields around the panhandle. I'm sorry, but with how many people travel in from other cities, and even states, to play in these tournaments, the cities are making more than enough money thanks to all the hotel taxes and fees they're raking in.
You can spend SOME of that money improving the fields that keep that income flowing in. I've seen what happens when a city begins to neglect the fields that were driving that revenue. The tournaments stop drawing teams in because they don't want to play on bad fields. When the teams stop coming, the hotel revenue dries up and leaves the city wondering what happened.
Youth baseball is growing at a rapid pace in the panhandle, and it's time to take action. Fix the fields, then take care of them. If I see another field with a prairie dog hold in the outfield, I can assure you any team my kids are a part of won't be back...and we won't be alone.